When the Civil War broke out, Farnsworth was named first lieutenant
in the 8th Illinois Cavalry. That regiment was commanded by his
uncle, John F. Farnsworth. Later, he was promoted to captain and was
made the assistant chief quartermaster of the IV Corps.
Five days before his death at Gettysburg, Farnsworth was promoted
again, this time to brigadier general. He was just 25 years old,
making him one of the youngest generals of the Civil War.
On July 3, the final day of the battle, Farnsworth was ordered to
take his brigade and make a charge against the Confederates below
Round Top. Farnsworth at first argued against the command, since it
required riding across broken, rocky terrain against an enemy
protected by a high wall. But under accusations of cowardice, he
finally agreed to lead the charge.
Farnsworth allegedly told his commander, "General, if you order
the charge, I will lead it, but you must take the awful
The charge was a dismal failure, with the Union soldiers
suffering dramatic casualties. Farnsworth suffered five bullet
wounds and died on the field. He is buried in the Rockton Cemetery
in Rockton, Ill.
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The artifact on display with the exhibit is an original cavalry
flag carried during the Civil War.
The "General of the Month" exhibit is part of the Old State
Capitol's ongoing commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the
Civil War. Artifacts from Illinois' Civil War generals, from
well-known to the obscure, are featured each month.
During the 1840s and 1850s, the Old State Capitol was the scene
of debate over issues that led the nation to war in 1861. During the
Civil War, as the seat of government, it was the center of the
state's wartime mobilization. The Capitol also provided space for
local events aiding the needs of local residents as well as soldier
Old State Capitol State Historic Site, administered by the
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday through Saturday. The "General of the Month" exhibit is
located near the adjutant general's office in the rotunda.
[Text from file received from the
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]